The Sceptered Isle Club

Written by Brent Monahan
Review by Teresa Basinski Eckford

In late 1905, recently retired sheriff and celebrated crime solver John le Brun makes his long-anticipated Voyage of Discovery to London, England, eager to challenge himself against the great minds residing there. A friend introduces him to the world of the men’s club, where he soon meets Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Within days of his arrival he finds himself caught up in a mystery after a poker game ends in mass murder. Suspicion falls on his host, one of the few surviving members of a lucrative tontine.

Monahan’s second le Brun novel takes the reader on a twisting journey through foggy streets, clubs, and grimy alleys as the bodies continue to pile up. He effectively recreates Edwardian London, peopled by an array of fascinating characters, including one from his previous book. The pace is a bit leisurely, but it works well, drawing the reader deeper into le Brun’s world.

Le Brun himself is a refreshing character: not your run-of-the-mill amateur detective, but a true professional who through the course of the book must come to terms with a life-altering condition. His background is awkwardly introduced in the first chapter – it would have been nice to learn some of the details a little more gradually. Still, his slightly fish-out-of-water experience adds an extra element to the story. The mystery itself is well-plotted and true to the period. Detective fiction fans with a love for history should enjoy this book.